Wednesday, October 20, 2021

"He Went Spinning Down into the Star-streaked Oblivion of Unconsciousness"

THERE'S AN OLD SAYING about imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, but you can be sure that someone somewhere will take it to extremes. That's how it is with one inhabitant of an officially "backward" planet who embarks on . . .

"The Adventure of the Misplaced Hound."
By Poul Anderson (1926-2001; HERE) & Gordon R. Dickson (1923-2001; HERE).
Illustrations by Edd Cartier (1914-2008; HERE).
First appearance: Universe Science Fiction, December 1953.
Third story in the Hoka series (HERE).
Reprints page (HERE).
Novelette (25 pages).
Online at (HERE) and The Luminist Archives (HERE; go down to text page 50).
     "Aha! A sea-faring man with red hair and a peg leg has passed by here on his way to drown a sackful of kittens."

Sherlock Holmes is hot on the trail of a wanted drug smuggler who has decided the planet Toka is the ideal place to hide out. "Sherlock Holmes?" you're probably thinking. This Holmes is like every one of his kind: "about a meter tall, tubby, golden-furred, with big panda-like heads. A race of overgrown teddy bears." But can this particular overgrown teddy bear live up to his namesake?

Principal characters:
~ Whitcomb Geoffrey:
  "A frown darkened Geoffrey’s brow. 'They may hamper us, you mean?' he snapped. 'Your function is to keep the natives non-hostile, Jones'."
~ Alexander Jones:
  "'No,' said Jones unhappily. 'What I’m afraid of is that the Hokas may try to help us. Believe me, Geoffrey, you’ve no idea of what can happen when Hokas take it into their heads to be helpful'."
~ Inspector Lestrade:
  "We wouldn’t find anything. No, sir, in a case as serious as this, there’s only one man who can lay such an arch-criminal by the heels. I refer, of course, to Mr. Sherlock Holmes."
~ Farmer Toowey:
  "Ah, lad, it be turrible what yeou zee on the moor o’ nights."
~ Sir Henry Baskerville:
  "The Hound. The Hound is after me!"
~ The butler:
  "Much as I admire Sir Henry, I cannot continue to serve an employer who may at any moment be devoured by monsters."
~ The ppussjan:
  ". . . found the light switch and snapped it. The radiance caught a tangle of three Hokas and one human."

Typo: "serveral".

References and resources:
- "the romantic version of nineteenth-century America, complete in every detail. Then there was the Space Patrol": References to previous Hoka adventures; see the ISFDb Hoka series listing (HERE).
- The Hoka resurfaced fifteen years later in entirely human form in a Star Trek episode, "A Piece of the Action" (WARNING! SPOILERS! Wikipedia HERE and Memory Alpha HERE).
- There's a review of Earthman's Burden at (HERE).
- Wikipedia's article (HERE) about the original human Sherlock Holmes is pretty comprehensive. Their entry on The Hound of the Baskervilles is similar (WARNING! SPOILERS! HERE). Project Gutenberg has the full text (HERE).
- ONTOS articles touching on The Hound are (HERE), (HERE), (HERE), (HERE), and (HERE).
- Our latest contact with Poul Anderson was his "Out of the Iron Womb" (HERE).


  1. I have very very mixed feelings about Poul Anderson. I've really hated some of his stuff. Other stuff of his I've loved. I adored THE HIGH CRUSADE - inspired madness.

    1. Same here, Allan. Anderson was very uneven, but at least his ideas were solid—for the most part. By the way, I've been meaning to congratulate you on VINTAGE POP FICTIONS and your movie review weblogs, all of them of high quality and with perceptive commentary. Blogging has come a long way.